As federal jurors began deliberating Thursday in the trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, one of many questions they faced was the value of a revealed secret.
In their final pitches of the nine-day trial, attorneys argued over whether Ambrose shared minimal information while bragging to a family friend or spilled sensitive details that might have crippled the Family Secrets mob investigation in its infancy.
Ambrose is charged with leaking details about the secret cooperation of hit man-turned-witness Nicholas Calabrese that ended up in the hands of the Chicago Outfit. Calabrese's crucial testimony in the 2007 Family Secrets trial resulted in murder convictions and life sentences for several Chicago mobsters.
In a series of FBI interviews in 2006, Ambrose admitted telling family friend William Guide about Calabrese's cooperation after twice working on his witness protection security detail in 2002 and 2003.
"Any release of information is critical. It puts people at risk," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Diane MacArthur. "A person doesn't know the world into which that information is being released. There's no way to judge its impact and what harm it may cause."
But Ambrose's attorney, Francis Lipuma, argued Thursday to the jury that his client had no criminal intent in telling Guide about "the big OC guy" he was guarding and had merely "shot his mouth off" to impress a man he looked up to as a father figure. "Police officers are humans like the rest of us," Lipuma said. "They make mistakes."
Criticizing the investigation as full of "major holes," Lipuma attacked the trial's highest-profile witnesses -- U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant -- for inconsistent testimony about Ambrose's initial, unrecorded FBI interview.
Thanks to Robert Mitchum
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